Team Sky and Jaguar Cars have announced a new three-year partnership ahead of the consumer launch later this year of the car marque’s new XF Sportbrake model, formally unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show last month. World champion Mark Cavendish and team mate Juan Antonio Flecha were on ceremonial duty in West London last Friday, pulling back the sheet covering the brand new car which was decked out in Team Sky’s black and blue livery.
Jaguar have provided Team Sky’s cars since the British outfit made its debut in the peloton at the start of the 2010 season, and says that the XF Sportbrake, combining performance and practicality, will meet the UCI WorldTour outfit’s needs both in terms of carrying the various items of kit - £100,000 of equipment on the roof alone, the company says – and acting as a mobile ‘nerve centre’ of operations during races.
Geoff Cousins, Jaguar Global Director of Sponsorships, said: “We’re delighted to announce a new three year partnership with Team Sky. We know that our involvement in the rapidly growing sport of cycling and our support of Team Sky resonates strongly with new and existing Jaguar customers.
“Team Sky and Jaguar have similar ambitions and objectives and furthermore, the values of the team fit well with our human performance and Alive themes that sit at the heart of the Jaguar brand. We wish the riders the very best of luck and look forward to celebrating their successes over the coming years,” he concluded.
Team principal Dave Brailsford added: “We are delighted to continue our partnership with Jaguar. Over the past two years Jaguar has provided the team with fantastic support and we very much look forward to putting the new XF Sportbrake through its paces.
“I am confident it will play an important role in the team’s success this year by providing a fast, high performance and comfortable race support car. It provides the perfect environment from which to direct race operations when we’re on the road. The fact that it looks stunning too will make it the stand out car behind the peloton.”
Earlier, Flecha and Cavendish had taken part in a photocall with the new vehicle, with the former chatting to Jaguar staff afterwards as he gave them a hands-on demonstration of how the Shimano Di2 electronic shifting on his bike worked.
Whether or not they were themselves cyclists was unclear, but as engineers they certainly appreciated it, and there was a lot of cooing over both Flecha’s Pinarello Dogma frame and its components.
The picture above of the riders with the Jaguar XF Sportbrake at the launch may raise a wry smile or two. The last time most fans saw the Spaniard that close to a car was when one belonging to France Televisions sideswiped him while he was in a breakaway group during last summer’s Tour de France, in the incident that sent Vacansoleil-DCM’s Johnny Hoogerland into a barned wire fence.
Cavendish, meanwhile, was accused by Movistar’s Francisco Ventoso and Garmin-Cervelo’s Murilo Fischer of taking surreptitious tows from team cars during the Mount Etna stage of the Giro d’Italia last May, a claim that the Manxman vehemently denied – his pose on top of the car here could perhaps be interpreted as a riposte to those barbs, whether deliberate or not.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.